BACK IN THE GAME
he number of days Ioannis Lekakis has been on campus has yet to make it into the triple digits. In fact, the count is at 26. Nevertheless, the 22-year old basketball fanatic from Athens, Greece, says he knows Rochester College is where he wants
— and more importantly — needs to be. “I want to be in an environment with good people, good coaches and a good team. I need that…and I’ve found all it here,” he said. Having spent his first two years in the U.S. playing ball at Florida State College, Ioannis is aware of the unique setting he has found himself in. Admittedly, he says the college’s small size threw him off guard at first. “When I came to campus and saw how small it was, to be honest I wasn’t very excited.” However, it didn’t take long for him to notice a quality that has set RC apart from other colleges and universities for more than 50 years—the community. “My view changed when I met my team and coaches. I realized that what matters most about your environment isn’t necessarily the place; it’s the people.” These people, including his teammates and Coach Klint Pleasant, have already made an impression on him. While playing at Florida State College, he says he was a part of a group of guys who got together to practice and play basketball games. “We weren’t a team. Here we’re like a family. We do things together. We treat each other well.” As a hoopster since the age of 6, he recognizes the importance of this dynamic. “How we interact is a big part of why this team is successful.” Hearing him sing the school’s praises would lead you to believe his presence at RC was intentional, but that isn’t the case. Conversely, the transition to the college’s hardwoods came after a series of timeouts in the game plan he had for his collegiate basketball career. In 2010, while preparing to transfer to Northern Arizona University, he tore his ACL during a routine practice drill. The injury forced him to take a year off from school and sports—and proved to be equally mentally and physically challenging for him. “I was ready to give up, but basketball isn’t just having fun for me. It’s taught me lessons, like how to be responsible, how to help someone in need, and overall, to never give up. It isn’t an option,” he said. Although there were days he was unsure of what the future would hold, over 5,000 miles away, Coach Pleasant knew where he wanted to see Ioannis. After watching him play on film, Pleasant was impressed. “I contacted his coach in Greece, and after several visits with him and Ioannis, it seemed like Ioannis would fit in our program — not only in terms of basketball skills, but also our mission. And now that he’s here, I’m even more excited for what the future holds for him as a student athlete, and a driven young man.” A 6’5” shooting guard, he is red shirting for the Warriors because he joined the team mid-season. Ioannis says he will begin playing in the fall, but for now, he’s getting in as much practice time as possible and focusing on his coursework. “No matter what happens, I’m going to try to reach my goal,” he says. This drive will undoubtedly propel him to continue working toward what he wants in life, including completing a business management degree at RC. After graduation, his hope is to play basketball on a professional level in Europe. In the long run, he envisions a career in business saying, “My country is having a lot of economic problems, and I want to be a part of the solution.” If the positive influence he’s already having on his team and peers is any indicator of the impact he’ll make in the future, he’ll surely be a game-changer wherever life leads him.
6 // SPRING // 2012
"In my opinion, RC is distinct because you feel comfortable to walk around the way that you are. RC teaches morality and
Published on Mar 1, 2012
North Star Volume 53 No. 2 Spring 2012Rochester College Alumni/Friends MagazineRochester Hills, Michiganwww.rc.edu/northstar